This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

October 19, 2011

A Barn Raising for the 21st Century

In bygone years, neighbors in rural America would share their time, tools, and talent to raise a barn for a neighbor in need. This year, Benton County, Oregon, residents demonstrated this same commitment to community at the Benton County Fairgrounds, but they didn't build any ordinary barn. They constructed a livestock building powered by 306 roof-top solar modules funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

"This building was built in the spirit of the traditional barn raising," said Eric Thompson, past chair of the Benton County Fair Board and current Fairgrounds Foundation member, referring community coming together to build something of utility.

The array will meet nearly a quarter of the fairgrounds' annual energy needs and cut energy costs by $4,200 per year. The 82,700 kilowatt-hours of solar-generated electricity will avoid 1.1 million pounds of greenhouse gas emissions—an amount equivalent to reducing automobile travel by 121,724 miles a year or planting 7.7 acres of trees. See Energy Blog post.